Wagga Wagga is located at the intersection of major national highways linking Sydney through to western NSW and South Australia; and Melbourne through to northern NSW and Queensland. As Wagga Wagga continues to facilitate a growing share of the national road and rail freight task, the need for a road network providing an alternate route for the city has become evident. Increasing volumes of traffic through the urban area of Wagga Wagga adversely impacts on public amenity, image and safety.
The Sturt Highway is the major east-west link through the Murray-Riverina region, commencing at the Hume Highway junction to the east of Wagga Wagga and travelling west for 985 kilometres until it reaches Adelaide. The Highway currently runs through the centre of Wagga Wagga, passes through 4 sets of traffic lights, 4 roundabouts and directly interfaces with the central business area, a school zone for a major primary school and a number of residential areas.
Development of an alternative heavy vehicle route will result in the following positive outcomes, realised in both the short and long term.
Contribute to progression and maturity of the city as a modern, people friendly place
Discourage trucks to use highly visible public areas or residential streets to de-couple and change drivers
Transfer to local Council the ownership and maintenance responsibility of the city’s most visible, high profile stretch of road. The corridor can be beautified and enhanced to a higher standard befitting of a major Australian city. The road is currently unappealing and unwelcoming to both residents and visitors to the city
Improve safety and amenity users of the road on alternative modes of transport, such as pedestrians and cyclists
Significantly reduce the chance of a severe accident involving heavy vehicles
Improve fuel efficiencies for heavy vehicles with fewer stops and the ability to travel at higher speeds
Enable increased development and retail activity along Edward Street that is currently restricted and constrained by safety concerns, noise, vibrations and pollution
Prepare for future growth in road freight and also establish a section of the Sturt Highway suitable for high productivity vehicles such as b-triples and road trains.
In 2015 the Committee 4 Wagga engaged GHD to identify alternative highway routes to be considered and applied in preliminary planning for a bypass of the city. The analysis identified an alternate route to the south of the city as the preferred option due to more suitable topography and the use of flood free land requiring fewer bridge upgrades or constructions.
As a result of the work delivered by GHD, the C4Wagga received a commitment from the NSW Government to undertake a corridor study, specifically to understand the issues and opportunities relating to alternative routes for the Sturt Highway at Wagga Wagga.
The RMS are managing the study and it is expected a report will be made available in mid-2017. In addition to the RMS study the congestion issues where theSturt Highway travels through Wagga Wagga are identified within the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan and the Regional Freight Transport Plan produced by the Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (REROC).
The proposed southern bypass begins east of Forest Hill and circumnavigates the city to the south, traversing mostly farm land before re-joining the Sturt Highway after approximately 33kms. The proposed route would allow heavy vehicles to maintain higher speeds for longer periods, rather than contending with local traffic, pedestrians, school zones, traffic lights and roundabouts as they currently do on their way through Wagga Wagga. The following calculation estimates the time savings realised per heavy vehicle.
Based on these estimates and heavy vehicle traffic counts along the busy route, approximately 39,000 operating hours can be saved or the equivalent of 15,600,000 kilometres travelled per year. This assumes 70% of all heavy vehicles counted at Wagga Wagga are travelling through the city and not stopping to conduct business before continuing their journey.
Alternate routes of cities and towns in Australia have been progressively completed as roads have become busier and road freight has increased. The bypass of Albury and Wodonga was completed in 2009 at a cost of $524M. In 2006 prior to the project’s completion, traffic counts along the Hume Highway through the CBD of Albury were 18,100. In contrast, an average of 18,000 vehicles movements occurred per day along the Sturt Highway at Wagga Wagga in 2010, including an estimated 2,700 heavy vehicles (15% of all traffic).
An average of 18,000 vehicles movements per day were recorded at various points along the Sturt Highway in 2010, including an estimated 2,700 heavy vehicles.
Cost Estimate: No
Wagga Wagga City Council
Committee 4 Wagga
Begin planning and identify the most suitable alternative route to allow for appropriate zoning and preservation of the road corridor.